At Forefront of Surge in Diplomacy for Peace

September 15, 2017, 06:00

On 13 September 2017, Secretary-General António Guterres announced the establishment of a High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. The Board will provide him with advice on mediation initiatives and back specific mediation efforts around the world. The 18 members of the panel -- current and former global leaders, senior officials and renowned experts -- bring together an unparalleled range of experience, skills, knowledge and contacts.

As the Board meets for the first time in New York on 27 November 2017 to discuss possible future engagements, we asked some of its members what they hope to achieve and what it means to be at the forefront of the Secretary-General’s “surge in diplomacy for peace”. Here’s what they had to say.

Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka)

“There will be no sustainable peace in any part of the world unless it is inclusive and protects and empowers the vulnerable. I hope to be that voice.“

Radhika Coomaraswamy was a former Under Secretary General and The Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. She was the lead author of the Global Study on the Implementation of Resolution 1325 published in 2015 and was the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women from 1994-2003. In Sri Lanka she was the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission from 2003-2006. She began her life as an academic at The International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Colombo and has also taught at the New York University School Of law in New York.


Jean-Marie Guéhenno (France)

“Contemporary conflicts have multiple layers, which makes them increasingly difficult to resolve. Mediation, including preventive mediation becomes all the more important. The United Nations have an indispensable contribution to make in that respect and I am honored to join a group that will support the Secretary General in his efforts to strengthen the political role of the UN.”

A former French diplomat, Mr. Guéhenno served as the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations between 2000 and 2008. In 2012 he chaired President François Hollande’s review of France’s defence and national security posture, before being appointed Deputy Joint Special Envoy for Syria by the United Nations and the Arab League. Mr. Guéhenno has been President of the International Crisis Group, an independent organization working to prevent wars and shape policies to build a more peaceful world, since 2014. He was previously director of Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution.


Tarja Halonen (Finland)

“Sustainable peace and sustainable development are linked like two legs of jeans, and I hope to bring my experience from realising SDGs to Advisory Board’s discussions. A peace process concerns the society as a whole, and women need to be involved. Respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights is at the core of conflict prevention and peacemaking.”

Ms. Halonen was President of Finland from 2000 to 2012, the first woman to hold the post. Her successful political career – she was both Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-2000) and Minister of Justice (1990-1991) before becoming President – followed her early experience as a trade union lawyer and was characterised by her dedication to human rights and challenges related to globalisation. Ms. Halonen is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, a network of current and former women prime ministers and presidents whose primary goal is to draw on the experience of its members to support women’s full participation and representation in the political process at the highest levels.


David Harland (New Zealand)

“The UN can help if it can connect – our job is to help the UN connect.”

Mr. Harland has been Executive Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a private diplomacy organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, that works globally to help prevent, mitigate or resolve armed conflicts through dialogue and mediation. Mr. Harland previously worked for the United Nations, including in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti and Timor-Leste, and has served as the Chair of the World Economic Forum conflict prevention council.


Noeleen Heyzer (Singapore)

“The Secretary General’s emphasis on preventive diplomacy through strengthening mediation is both urgent and timely. Our inability to respond adequately to complex and protracted conflicts around the world has led to the largest number of displaced people since World War II. The international community has to find better ways to leverage effective diplomatic networks, work together to prevent wars, and build fairer and more cohesive societies. I am honoured to be part of the Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation, which I am confident can play a meaningful role at international, regional and local levels to identify early actions, prevent atrocities, forge political solutions, broker and preserve peace, heal divides and contribute to more inclusive and sustainable development.”

Ms. Heyzer is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore (2013-present ) as well as Distinguished Fellow at the Singapore Management University and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore (2016-present). She served, from 2007-2014, as Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and, from 1994-2007, as Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). During this twenty year period she transformed UNIFEM from a small body to a leading entity in women’s empowerment and gender equality and strengthened the capacity of ESCAP to support the countries of the region. From 2013-2015, Ms. Heyzer was the then Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Timor-Leste to support peacebuilding and sustainable development.


Nasser Judeh (Jordan)

“It is an honour to have been invited by the Secretary General to join his High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. Given the raging conflicts in many parts of our world today and the tensions that threaten to break out into open conflicts or hostilities, activating and operationalising the mediation diplomacy arm of the United Nations is not only needed, but imperative. It is my sincere hope to be able to provide sound advice to the Secretary General, and to support his noble and timely initiative in conflict resolution and prevention.”

Mr. Judeh was appointed to the Senate of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on 9 July 2017. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs (later Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates) from 2009 to 2017, and Deputy Prime Minister from 2015 to 2017. He had previously held cabinet, and cabinet level offices, serving as Minister of Information (1998 to 1999), Minister of State for Media and Communications (2007 to 2009) and official spokesman for the government of Jordan (1998-1999, 2005 to 2007 and 2007-2009). During his years in public service and particularly as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Judeh worked tirelessly and passionately to address the key challenges facing the Middle East region and the world, such as conflict prevention and resolution, dealing with the danger and threat of radicalisation, extremism and global terrorism, and in particular working on the pursuit of peace between Palestinians and Israelis as well as advancing efforts towards a political solution in Syria. He advocated His Majesty King Abdullah’s vision of peace and dialogue on regional and international issues, and in explaining the true message of Islam as a religion of peace, dialogue and openness.


Ramtane Lamamra (Algeria)

“Mediation is to a healthy world order what wisdom is to decent human interactions in peaceful communities.”

Mr. Lamamra was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Algeria between 2013 and 2017 and in that capacity played a prominent role in regional mediation efforts, including leading them in Mali. Previously, Mr. Lamamra was elected and served as the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security from 2008 -2013. As Commissioner he oversaw and led a period of increasing engagement by the African Union in mediation efforts, and helped forge a deepening partnership with the United Nations. Mr. Lamamra has also served as his country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador to the United States.


Asha-Rose Migiro (Tanzania)

“Meaningful dialogue and human engagement strike at the core of what mediation efforts should seek to achieve, and are vital tools in the pursuit of peace and assisting parties on their journey toward mutual understanding and compromise. I am honored to serve on the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Board. I look forward to contributing to his diplomatic surge to help prevent and resolve conflicts, and - importantly - their root causes.”

Ms. Migiro is High Commissioner of Tanzania to the United Kingdom. She previously served, between 2007 and 2012, as the third Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, in which capacity she championed the UN’s fight against poverty through effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals and achieve greater coherence in its support to member states through the implementation of the “Delivering as one” strategy. She also oversaw the reform process which led to the establishment of UNWOMEN. As Foreign Minister of Tanzania between 2006 and 2007, Ms. Migiro spearheaded Tanzanian engagement in the pursuit of peace, security and development in the Great Lakes Region, notably in her capacity as Chair of the Council of Ministers meetings in the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.


Raden Mohammad Marty Muliana Natalegawa (Indonesia)

“In these troubled times, fraught and replete with potential and actual conflicts; of trust deficits and a sense of a world adrift, there is a critical need for renewed commitment to diplomacy and mediation to address humanity’s common challenges. A clarion call for persistent, resolute and resilient efforts at peacemaking; for waging peace.”

During a decorated political career, Mr. Natalegawa served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia (2009 -2014), Permanent Representative to the UN and Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland, consistently championing the value of Indonesian diplomacy in high-level forums. Previously, he had held the position of Director General for ASEAN Cooperation, in which capacity he took part in an intensive effort to promote the idea of an ASEAN Community. Mr. Natalegawa served as Member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Response to Health Crises (2015) and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Asia Policy Institute.


Roza Otunbayeva (Kyrgyzstan)

“Placing prevention at the heart of the sustaining peace agenda is a bold move, and requires continuous efforts at different levels. I believe that the change should start at the community level, and I hope to complement such process with my knowledge and political instinct.”

Ms. Otunbayeva is former President of Kyrgyzstan. In 1991 she became both Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the newly independent country. She served as foreign minister three times (1991, 1994-1997, 2005). She worked for the United Nations as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Georgia (2002-2004). Ms. Otunbayeva was elected to parliament in 2007, and served as President between 2010 and 2011 – Central Asia’s first woman leader. She is currently a Member of the Club de Madrid, the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group, and the Board of the UN University for Peace, among other affiliations.


Michèle Pierre-Louis (Haiti)

“In a world where conflicts seem to constantly arise and cascade all around, the initiative launched by the UN Secretary General to create a High Level Advisory Board on Mediation is to my understanding a significant sign of hope in that it brings a diversity of historical background and political experience around the discussion on the potential healing power of the spoken word, of dialogue. This of course will only work if we, as a collective, are able to establish trust and truthfulness as the fundamentals of our mission and of our internal practice as a group.”

Ms. Pierre-Louis was Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and Public Security of Haiti from September 2008 to November 2009. Her appointment followed many years as a dedicated advocate for education, access to information and culture. In 1995 she became Executive Director of the Knowledge and Freedom Foundation (FOKAL); upon leaving office in 2009 she returned to FOKAL as president and coordinated post-earthquake reconstruction projects. In 2014, she was appointed by the then Secretary-General to his High-Level Panel on Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.


José Manuel Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste)

“I accepted without hesitation the invitation from the Secretary-General to serve in HLAB, motivated by my life commitment to serve the cause of peace. I do not come from the academia or bureaucracy. I come from the front line in the fight for peace and against poverty, for human freedom and dignity.”

A Nobel laureate, journalist and promoter of independence for Timor-Leste for thirty years, Mr. Ramos-Horta served as Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and Head of State of the newly independent Timor-Leste. Upon leaving office, he served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). In October 2014 he was appointed Chair of the then Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.


Justin Welby (United Kingdom)

“The High Level Advisory Board acknowledges the value of personal experience and the less formal networks and relationships which contribute to preventing and mediating conflict in our divided world. Many of these conflicts have a religious dimension and the ability to work with faith communities is a critical factor in mitigating many conflicts. Including religious leaders on the Board is an important way to build trust and confidence in the role of the church in preventing and transforming conflict and in post-conflict reconciliation, and for the church to work more closely with the United Nations and others working for peace. I am honoured to be a member of the Board and look forward to contributing to its important work, which clearly builds on the many existing initiatives already underway through UN agencies. I hope the Board can contribute in a very tangible way to the “surge in diplomacy for peace” which Secretary-General Guterres has made a central pillar of his work.”

The Right Reverend Justin Welby has been Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Communion since 2013. He is a former Bishop of Durham, Dean of Liverpool and Canon of Coventry Cathedral, who joined the Church of England after an early career in the oil industry. Archbishop Welby has long blended deep devotion to his parish communities with Church work around the world, especially in areas of conflict. In his inaugural sermon he evoked the courage to face up to the work of reconciliation, and he has since identified reconciliation as one of the three priority areas for his ministry.


President Michelle Bachelet (Chile)

Ms. Bachelet is serving a second, non-consecutive, term as President of Chile. She will join the Board in its activities after finishing her term as President. Ms. Bachelet is the former – and first – Executive Director of UN Women. A long-time champion of women’s rights, Ms. Bachelet has a history of dynamic global leadership, highly-honed political skills and a recognized ability to create consensus. Prior to assuming the Presidency for the first time in 2006, she served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Health. She holds a medical degree, and also studied military strategy at Chile’s National Academy of Strategy and Policy.


Leymah Gbowee (Liberia)

A 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, Ms. Gbowee is a peace activist, trained social worker, and women’s rights advocate. Her leadership of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003. Ms. Gbowee is the founder and current President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, founder of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative and co-founder and former Executive Director of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP).


Graça Machel (Mozambique)

Ms. Machel is a former freedom fighter, the first Minister of Education of Mozambique (1975-1989), and an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights. In 1994, the then Secretary-General appointed her to lead an assessment of the impact of armed conflict on children; the resulting report still resonates today. Ms. Machel was, with her husband Nelson Mandela, a founding member of The Elders. She also founded the Graça Machel Trust and was a Member of the UN High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. As a member of the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities, Ms. Machel played a critical role in the mediation of the crisis following Kenya’s December 2007 elections.


Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria)

Mr. Obasanjo is one of the most distinguished elder statesmen of Africa. He served as President of the Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, and before that as the Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces from 1976 to 1979. Over his long career, Mr. Obasanjo has been involved in numerous international mediation efforts, including in Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. In 2008 he was appointed the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the Great Lakes region. 


Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala)

Mr. Rosenthal has held senior positions in the Guatemalan Government – he was Minister of Planning and Foreign Minister between 1969-1974 and 2006-2008, respectively – and with the United Nations. He was the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) from 1989 to 1997 and has since been Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations twice (1999-2004, 2008-2014), heading his delegation in the Security Council during 2012 and 2013. In January 2015 the then Secretary-General nominated Mr. Rosenthal as a member of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture.